August 2004 Archives

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August 31, 2004
Convention Bit 2

And let's not forget Michael Steele, Lt. Gov. of Maryland.

What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn't whether you can get a seat at the lunch counter, it's whether you can own that lunch counter to create legacy wealth for your children.

Take that, inheritance tax!


Now, at the Democratic convention, we heard one word over and over again: hope.

But there's a problem my friends.

Hope is not a strategy.

Hope doesn't protect your kids from terrorism.

Hope doesn't lower your taxes; hope doesn't help you buy a home.

And hope doesn't assure a quality education for your children.

As the Book of James reminds us, it's not enough to just have faith. Faith that does not show itself by good deeds is no faith at all.

One term as governor under his belt, and Mr. Steele could be a national candidate.

[Again very grateful for the DVR. I'd have missed the speeches tonight otherwise.]

Posted by Russ at 11:23 PM
Convention Bit

Who knew Rod Paige was such a good speaker?

[I am so glad I have a digital video recorder....]

Posted by Russ at 11:10 PM
MT3.1 Released

The latest update for Movable Type is now out.

You can bet money I'll be upgrading — tonight, if not sooner.

Update: the upgrade itself went very smoothly, but implementing the dynamic pages feature has been a complete failure. I must be missing something obvious.

Update 2: Brandon Fuller points out the problem. No dynamic pages/archives for this boy. Yep, it should have been obvious. I must be really tired.

Posted by Russ at 04:33 PM
Another Reason to Despise Kerry

This can't be good for a certain candidate: Flyer from Kerry.

As a veteran, I'd like to take this opportunity to give the finger, retroactively, to the entire VVAW — John Kerry most particularly included.

(Link via Blackfive)

Posted by Russ at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)
The Joy of Blogging

So far this evening morning, while doing support for that other site I help run, I've

  • spent two hours on the phone with one of our writers
  • fixed a login problem
  • fixed a bug in the MT code
  • rebuilt the site twice

I volunteered for this stuff. I don't mind. Really, I don't.

Posted by Russ at 04:37 AM
Foxy - Not

Who at Fox News thought Susan Estrich would be a commentator people would want to see or hear?

Lord, the woman is abrasive. "Harpy" would be a step up for her. What a hack.

The conspiracy-minded might be tempted to think that Fox wanted to put the worst possible face on the Left. Intent or not, that's what they got.

Posted by Russ at 01:21 AM | Comments (3)
August 30, 2004
No Tourists

Steve has some excellent advice for the bloggers at the Republican National Convention.

There's no excuse for not learning from the Democrat National Convention bloggers' biggest mistake.

Posted by Russ at 09:25 PM
Trackback Spammers

Spammers can all just go die.

I just got hit with 40+ trackbacks to porn sites, all pointing to the same website, all with spoofed IP addresses.

I can't wait until MT-Blacklist is available for MT 3.0.

Update: is it a coincidence that the post entitled "Die, Spambots, Die!" is the one hit with most of the spam?

Posted by Russ at 06:32 PM
Light Blogging

Due to my involvement behind the scenes at Blogs For Bush, I may be a bit busy this week.

[You did know I was working on that, right?]

On the other hand, since I'm paying much closer attention to things this week, maybe I'll be posting more than usual.

Posted by Russ at 05:12 PM
August 29, 2004
Lesson Required

Roast beef on rye? Are you nuts?

Steve, Steve, Steve... for roast beef it's sourdough, or nothing.

Corned beef, though... mmm... corned beef....

Posted by Russ at 06:46 PM | Comments (2)
Moonbats Coming to Raleigh

While driving home from the grocery store, I heard on the radio a mated pair of the shrieking yellowbellied variety of barking moonbat. They were going on and on about how awful Bush is, how awful Republicans are, war-for-oil, Halliburton! Halliburton! Halliburton!, and then proceeded to misquote the entirety of the First Amendment. A less-educated pair of self-important blowhards I have not heard since, well, ever.

[This was on my prime VRWC talk-radio station, not the local NPR. I don't know how they managed to get on the air, unless it was to remind us that such people really do exist.]

Then they said that this Thursday they and their kind will be protesting outside the Republican headquarters in Raleigh.

"Hmm," I thought. "That's only about 20 miles from here."

"Now," I said to myself, "might be the time to join Protest Warrior."

So I did.

Posted by Russ at 06:03 PM | Comments (2)
Quote of the Day

Sir George, in a masterful dismemberment of John F. Kerry:

If [the people of Vietnam] really would side with [whatever troops were in their area] then how did Wisconsin end up with signs written in both English and Hmong? John Kerry spoke up for their interests once; do you dare want him speaking for yours?

Read the whole thing at The Rott.

Posted by Russ at 01:41 AM
August 27, 2004
Evil Thought of the Day

Some people are like Slinkies...

... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Posted by Russ at 08:30 PM

Another indication of Purple Heart problems for Kerry.

When I was a JROTC cadet 1977-1980, our chief advisor was Lieutenant Colonel Whitham; when I was in college, our ROTC commander was Lieutenant Colonel Shine. [I didn't stay with the college ROTC. Big mistake.]

LTC Whitham was a veteran of Korea, where he led a tank platoon, and where he earned two Silver Stars for gallantry in action. Being an Armor officer, he didn't see action in Vietnam. Rather, he faced down the Soviets across the German frontier during the darkest years of the Cold War. After he retired from active duty, he went into the school system to teach JROTC cadets, and later continued to serve his country in ROTC programs at the college level. He died in 2002.

LTC Shine (who later retired as a full Colonel), his two brothers, and his sister all served in Vietnam. One brother was killed, the other was MIA, and he was himself severely wounded. As I recall, he couldn't completely straighten his arm - the scars looked pretty rough. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. After retiring from active duty, he headed an academy for ten years, and now (if my sources are right) leads "history tours" of Europe.

I have met very few men as fine as these two. They are two of my personal heroes, and even as a snotty teenager, I was awed by their presence, and humbled by the fact that they would take the time to try to teach me. Neither spoke much at all about their combat experiences, and neither ever talked about their courage. Their character wasn't something they put on like a suit; it was the essence of their being.

By contrast, we now see John Kerry. He did earn some medals in Vietnam, as he is fond of reminding us all. But as is becoming clearer, he didn't quite earn them all. It looks very much like he manipulated the system to get himself an early out from service in Vietnam. From what I've seen, heard and read, I'm sure that if the first Purple Heart had been denied (the second time he put himself in for it) he'd have found another way to leave early.

He himself looks more and more like an empty suit — the character he wears, and the lack of any character underneath.

(Via Michelle Malkin)

Posted by Russ at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)
August 26, 2004

Bad science doesn't stand a chance when it meets a guy named "Beaker."

Posted by Russ at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)
August 25, 2004
How Smart?

How smart is John Kerry, really?

Not very, if the last month has been any indication. Of course, it might be that his handlers are the dumb ones.

As evidence, one need only cite the way Kerry's been completely played, completely abused and used, by both the Swift Boat Veterans and Karl Rove in the month of August.

Almost everyday since the Democratic convention ended Kerry's been roughed up, shoved into a locker, and had his lunch money taken away. And it only seems to be getting worse.

[Italics mine; link in the original.]

Well said, Mr. Miller. It's a pity I already picked my Quote of the Day.

Posted by Russ at 09:54 PM
Excedrin Headache #527

Max Cleland has clearly either lost his mind, or has sold his soul. It would be laughable if it were not so sad.

Cleland served honorably and courageously in Vietnam, winning a Silver Star at Khe Sanh, and was later horribly injured in an accident (which could have happened anywhere in the Army — that it happened in Vietnam was a coincidence.) I remember many years ago seeing a news-magazine item about him during one of his campaigns for Georgia Secretary of State and thinking "there's a guy I could vote for, just on his war record."

Well, no more.

In the time since his Senate re-election loss in 2002, he seems to have come unhinged. He claims to have been called unpatriotic during that campaign; in fact, all that was questioned was his Senate record, which is what is suppposed to happen in a Senate election. He was then one of those who led the charge on the proven-false claims that President Bush was AWOL from his National Guard service.

And now he is used as a prop by the Kerry camp. Today it was the letter to be given to the President:

Mr. President, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, we believe you owe a special duty to America's combat veterans when they are under false and scurrilous attacks. We hope you will recognize this duty, and speak out against this group and their efforts to smear the reputation of a man who has served this country nobly.

[As if the Swift Boat Vets didn't serve nobly, as if none were wounded, as if none have won awards for bravery. As if the "attacks" are either false or scurrilous.]

Tomorrow it'll undoubtedly be something else.

If Kerry wants the activities of SBVT to stop, perhaps he ought to release all his military records. Or he could attempt to rein in the foul trolls at MoveOn(dot)org. Until then, Bush has given him the correct answer: go pound sand.

Kerry seems to have taken a lesson or two from his Vietnam experience — he accuses others of doing the things he does himself. I think it's called "projection."

Update: a reminder of who really has connections to 527s.

Posted by Russ at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)
Quote of the Day

Thomas Sowell:

What Kerry did was accuse Americans still fighting in Vietnam of widespread atrocities on a daily basis, atrocities authorized all the way up the chain of command, atrocities committed for racial reasons, doing things to the Vietnamese that we would never do to Europeans.

This will no doubt come as some surprise to those Germans whose cities were fire-bombed to rubble in World War II.


Posted by Russ at 03:55 PM | Comments (1)
August 24, 2004
Quote of the Day

From the "oldie but goodie" files:

If I knew a man was coming to my house with the fixed intention of doing me good, I would run for my life.

Henry David Thoreau

Posted by Russ at 04:25 PM
Color Me Reassured

It's always nice to know that some of the big-dog pundits agree with me.

...[R]eal heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."

I wonder if Mr. Peters read what I wrote here?


Posted by Russ at 01:03 PM | Comments (4)
August 23, 2004
Daily Report

While on the way to the store today I did not get hit by a bus.

I did not win the lottery of any state today.

I was not mugged at an ATM today.

No one burgled my house today.

I did not go to see Alien vs. Predator today.

The Olympic boxing quarterfinals were not held in my living room today.

No one shot at me today.

Because, y'know, if I don't write down that it didn't happen, it must have happened. Especially if someone else falsely reports that it did.

Oh, but you can take John Kerry's word for anything.

Posted by Russ at 07:10 PM | Comments (1)
Current Affairs

Western nations have been assaulted by the forces of a radical ideology, bent on conquest.

They have struck at the leading nation of the West, and have voiced their desire to conquer, enslave and convert the world. They mean it. They have thousands of willing servants, while the nations of the West are divided and bickering.

France [*spit*] has allied itself with the enemies of the West.

One man, though, has seen the danger and has acted to stop it. He built a coalition. Coalition troops have gone off to the field of battle and have been victorious.

Thus we have a brief summary of the world today.

Right? Yes, indeed it is.


In 1571 the Turks struck at the Venetian lion's holdings, and threatened to turn the Mediterranean into a Turkish lake. It was no idle threat. The Turkish fleet of galleys was the largest in the world, and Christendom was hopelessly divided. France had made alliance with the Turks.

One man saw the danger....

Last night I was re-reading yet another book I'd read long ago, There Will Be War, Volume IV: Day of the Tyrant edited by Jerry Pournelle. As with the other volumes in the series, it is a collection of short works, each with an introduction by Dr. Pournelle (who also wrote a number of the stories contained in the series.)

Though I've been interested in history as long as I can remember, and was in fact a history major in college back in the very early '80s, I'd never learned anything about the Battle of Lepanto (except that there was such a battle) until I read the pieces I've included below. "Introduction" is as good a summary of the Battle of Lepanto as I've yet found, which proves to me the value of reading, even if you don't read textbooks 24/7. You can sometimes learn useful things from the most unexpected sources.

Not only did I learn what little I know about Lepanto from the aforementioned science fiction anthology, but an old lesson was reinforced: "plus ça change, plus ça meme chose" — the more things change, the more they stay the same. [The French, in their entire history, have managed to get that one thing right.]

[I suspect one thing that won't change any time soon is French willingness to side with tyrants. Practice seems to have perfected that skill over the centuries.]

Given the sheer volume of the total historical record, it is perhaps unsurprising that certain current events will bear a resemblence to events from centuries past, but the parallels between that war five centuries ago and the war in which we are currently engaged are too striking to go unremarked upon.

Not only are there parallels, there's also a lesson for us in the historical record. After Lepanto (due to poor strategy, poor finances, and internal disagreements) the western allies failed to follow up on the victory. The Turks retreated, licked their wounds, rebuilt their fleet and took Cyprus from the Venetians, and continued their expansionistic ways, though they never again threatened complete domination of the Mediterranean.

There's definitely a lesson there.

The introduction to G. K. Chesterton's poem Lepanto is reproduced below in its entirety with the kind permission of Dr. Pournelle. The poem itself, which naturally follows the introduction, is in the public domain.

The latter is one of the few pieces of poetry I've ever really enjoyed. I'm a sucker for Kipling (thanks Dad!) but otherwise poetry does very little for me. Except, of course, for the DoggerelPundit.

I strongly urge you to read them both.


Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Constantinople, the City of the Golden Horn, capital of Byzantium, fell in 1453 to the cannon of the Ottoman Turks; with it fell the last of the Eastern Roman Empire. For the next hundred years all Europe was threatened. Soliman, known to Europe as Suleiman the Magnificent, besieged Vienna in 1529 and came within an ace of taking the city.

In 1571 the Turks struck at the Venetian lion's holdings, and threatened to turn the Mediterranean into a Turkish lake. It was no idle threat. The Turkish fleet of galleys was the largest in the world, and Christendom was hopelessly divided. France had made alliance with the Turks.

One man saw the danger. Pius V prevailed upon the Spanish and the Venetians to join forces in a grand alliance. Philip II of Spain, son of Charles V, sent his fleet under the command of his bastard half brother Don John of Austria. John, at 26, was the most able commander of his time. (He is not the fickle "Don John" of Mozart's opera.) The Turkish fleet concentrated at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth near the fortified town of Lepanto. The Turkish fleet boasted 270 galleys to oppose Don John's 220; but the Christian fleet included six "super galleys," known as galeasses, which were deployed in front of the Christian battle line.

The fleets met in the narrow straits. Ali Pasha, the Turkish commander, had 400 Janissary shock troops aboard his flagship. He steered directly for Don John's flagship Real. The ships crashed together and became entangled. Ali called for reinforcements from the galleys in reserve behind his line. Other Christian ships rushed to aid the Real.

Twice the Janissaries boarded the Real and were swept back by her 300 arquebusiers. Twice again Don John's soldiers boarded the Turkish flagship and reached the mainmast, before Colonna in the Papal flagship came alongside the Turk and raked her decks with musket fire. Don John's third charge carried, and the whole of the Turkish center fled.

The carnage was terrible. Twelve Christian galleys were sunk and one captured, with losses of 15,000 officers and men. Of the Turks, 113 galleys were sunk, and another 117 were captured. Tens of thousands of the Turks were killed, 8,000 were captured, and 15,000 Christian galley slaves were freed.

The best known casualty of the battle was Miguel Cervantes, whose left hand was carried away by a cannon ball. He survived to write Don Quixote.


White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain—hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,--
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces--four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth."
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,--
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed--
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign--
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!

Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

Posted by Russ at 02:37 PM
August 22, 2004
Wholly Owned Subsidiaries

Kevin at Blogs for Bush has a nice (and freshly updated) graphic that draws the connections between the Kerry campaign and several 527 organizations —, for instance.

He also points out that the DNC is boasting about their ties to those shadowy organizations.

For the record, I've nabbed a screenshot (click here) of the web page in question. Mysteriously disappearing web pages are not an unknown phenomenon in Democrat-land.

The only question that remains is whether the DNC owns the 527s, or vice-versa.

Posted by Russ at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)
Haiku for Rood
Rood, Swifty, writes tale.
Turnabout being fair play:
"Not on the same boat!!!!"

Let's see how the media handle this Rood business, after being so quick to dismiss or attack the Swift Boat Vets for Truth because they weren't on the same boat as John Kerry (despite the fact that one actually was).

The biggest story of this campaign season is the press' failure to cover itself with glory, despite opportunities galore.

Posted by Russ at 10:04 AM | Comments (3)
August 21, 2004
Quote of the Day

Andrew Stuttaford:

One of the more absurd aspects of multiculturalism is the way that we are in the West are now meant to revere the 'authentic' wisdom of those parts of the world still mired in the backward traditions of the past. We swoon at the feet of shamans – basically conmen dressed in twigs. We look for enlightenment from the cults and superstitions of societies that are tens of thousands of years late in escaping the Stone Age.

In NRO's "The Corner."

Posted by Russ at 11:19 PM | Comments (1)
August 20, 2004
War Stories

If there's one military tradition that has endured throughout the ages, it is the telling and retelling of "war stories." In the civilian world, we'd call them "tall tales." There's a saying: the true stories are never exciting, and the exciting stories are never true. Well, almost never, but near enough that it makes for a good rule of thumb.

Regular readers (both of you!) may have noticed that from time to time I'll recount some incident from my time in the service. Those episodes that I choose to tell about (like this one) will only be about the tangential things, never about my core function.

I say again: what you'll never see me do is tell about any of the real-world intelligence missions in which I participated. Apart from the whole issue of classification (I have no idea if anything has ever been or will ever be declassified) those stories are — without fail — exceedingly dull.

One of the essential truths of the matter is that in the military, exciting incidents tend to be deadly. Those who survive are not often likely to retell those stories over and over, except to recount the bravery of one or more of their brothers-in-arms.

The most heroic virtually never tell their own stories; heroes don't claim to be heroic. Sure, on vanishingly rare occasions they do, but generally, no. If I hear someone claiming to be a hero, I make sure my valuables are secure. (Why? See the book Stolen Valor.)

And maybe that's what bugs me most about John Kerry and his campaign. I have no doubt that on occasion he acted nobly, perhaps bravely. He did go into combat, after all. What really irritates me, though, is the unabashed way in which he continually blows his own horn. Even if his reported deeds are all true (about which there is now considerable doubt) it strikes me as thoroughly unbecoming for him to tout them as a qualification for the highest office in the land.

The list of decorated combat veterans who have run for the Presidency is long and distinguished. The list of those who have bragged about their combat decorations is a very short one, indeed.

Of course, given Kerry's Senate record (or lack thereof), I can't say that I really blame him.

Posted by Russ at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)

I did not see Michelle Malkin's appearance on Hardball last night, mainly because I can't abide Kerry's shrill shill Chris Matthews.

However, I've heard excerpts of the "interview" touching on the Swift Vets book.

I have not heard that anyone was accusing Kerry of deliberately inflicting a wound on himself in order to gain a Purple Heart and/or avoid combat duty. See the problem in that? The accusation I've heard is that he deliberately did something that resulted in an unintentional wound. In short, Kerry was reckless.

But in an astonishing display of the Straw Man logical fallacy, Matthews kept pounding Malkin to get her to say, yes or no, whether Kerry deliberately wounded himself to avoid combat.

If my understanding of the event in question is accurate, the technically correct answer is "no" — but that is the problem. Kerry did wound himself, albeit inadvertently. He then did claim a Purple Heart for the incident.

However, by denying the exact claim Matthews was making, without expanding on it, Malkin would have given him exactly what he wanted: a noted conservative denying a key Swift Vet claim.

The correct answer, what Malkin ought to have said, was "no, but...." Sadly, that's too much nuance for partisan hack Matthews. Spoons has it right: Matthews is a horse's ass.

Posted by Russ at 02:20 PM

Once upon a time....

I was out of the Army, in college, and I met a girl... no, a young woman. Her name was Bertha Barrera. She was just a few years younger than I. We went out on a few dates, and in no time at all, I was in love. I lived just to see her every day at school. I thought about her constantly.

We went on a few more dates, but I was a clod. "Introverted" was the understatement of the year. "Socially awkward" doesn't even begin to describe my condition. "Tongue-tied" was my usual state. I just didn't know how to carry the relationship forward. I never figured out how to tell her exactly how I felt about her. Being a poor college student didn't exactly help, either.

The last time I saw her was during graduation week. She had taken time off from school, so she wasn't graduating with our class, but she was welcome at the cookout we threw to celebrate the occasion. She made a brief appearance and, as she left, she hugged me, I stammered... and she was gone.

I never saw her again.

I imagine she's never known how I really felt. I imagine her life has gone on as most peoples' lives do. I bet she has two kids and a dog now.

I've moved on, but I will always regret not being able to tell her I loved her. I will always regret that I will never be able to tell her that, to this day, part of me still loves her.

I truly hope she is happy and well in whatever she is doing now; I pray her life is good.

I can still see her face, smell her perfume. I'd give anything to see her just one more time, just to know that she's well.


Posted by Russ at 11:36 AM

The word is out that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have another ad coming out today.

I've never actually been eager to see an ad before.

I figure the new one will be aimed at debunking Kerry's claims of having witnessed war crimes. I'll bet a dollar on it.

Update: I am so behind the curve on this. The moment I clicked the "Post & Publish" button (I use w.bloggar; it's an excellent tool for composing posts) a confirming item came up on FoxNews. But someone still owes me a dollar.

Posted by Russ at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)
Tax Question

At what point do the New York Times' operating expenses stop being legitimate tax deductions, and start being listed as non-deductible campaign contributions for Kerry?

Wait... I thought it was illegal for for-profit corporations to make campaign contributions. No?

I guess at the rate the Times has gone the last few years, they'll be non-profit soon enough.

Posted by Russ at 10:57 AM
August 18, 2004
Did you serve? Do you blog?

Jeff Quinton of Backcountry Conservative is attempting to collect a list of bloggers who have served or are serving in uniform.

If you blog, and if you are serving or have served in the Armed Forces, let Jeff know.

Me: US Army: 1986-1992, Military Intelligence.

(Oh, don't act all surprised — I mention it often enough.)

(via Hook.)

Posted by Russ at 11:08 PM | Comments (1)
War Hero

I need to update my DD-214. In Senator Tom Harkin's world, I'm a Gulf War veteran.

For the record: I am a Gulf War era veteran. I spent 1991 at Fort Ord in California.

Posted by Russ at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)
Voices In My Head

Maybe I'm obtuse, but I only now have noticed something. John Kerry seems to have almost entirely shed his Boston accent.

Having been a linguist, perhaps I have an ear for these things. Nonetheless, I never consciously noticed Kerry's near-accentlessness until today. Maybe it's because his other speaking habits are so ponderously annoying, or because what he says makes me want to tune him out completely. If you can bear to do so, listen to his voice recorded during his 1971 Senate testimony, and compare it to one of his speeches today. The difference is astonishing.

OK, granted, he's lived in Washington DC for nigh unto 20 years. But I can think of a whole roster of politicians (past and present) who spent decades in Washington yet never lost their regional accents. Jesse Helms, Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Phil Graham... the list goes on and on.

One is tempted to think that maybe Kerry has actively cultivated a neutral accent. Perhaps it's because he knows that "Boston liberal" is not an image of himself that he wants portrayed during his campaign.

Update, 8/19/04: Greyhawk noticed the same thing, and now has a link to a video of Kerry on the Dick Cavett show. Go. See.

Posted by Russ at 12:52 PM | Comments (6)
Not Who He Meant

When Al Gore used the expression "digital brownshirts," I presume he meant these people, right?


Note to Al: expressing an opinion online does not make one a "digital brownshirt." Using online tools to shut down other peoples' freedom of speech does.

(Link via Bill Hobbs writing at Blogs for Bush.)

Posted by Russ at 12:07 PM
August 17, 2004
Good Times

Some of the best years of my life were those that would seem to have been the toughest. I'll bet that's true for a lot of people.

In April of 1988, after two years of Army training, I arrived at my first permanent station — Alpha Company, 102nd MI Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Hovey Korea.

As all assignments to 2nd ID were at the time, it was a one-year assignment, considered a "hardship tour" by the Army. Most places the Army sends you, they will let you take your family and household with you - but not 2nd ID.

Many called us the "tripwire division" (in case the North Koreans decided to come south to unite the peninsula once and for all), but we ha-ha-only-seriously referred to ourselves as the "speedbump division." We were under no illusions that we might survive intact if the Norks came south. We just had to slow them down long enough to allow stateside units to deploy to the Korean peninsula to put pain and destruction on the enemy.

The living conditions in garrison were uncomfortable but not unbearably so — but for the first several months I was in Korea, it seemed we were rarely in garrison. We lived in tents and bunkers overlooking the DMZ, performing our mission. After a stand-down for the '88 Seoul Olympics, we returned to a slightly less active field operational cycle: a bit more time in garrison and a bit less time in the field. But make no mistake: we lived "under canvas" much more than any stateside unit might.

It was a tough routine — not as tough as our lads have it in Iraq and Afghanistan have it — but it was important and satisfying work. Those of us there became just about as close as it is possible to become in a peacetime Army. We lived together, deployed together, partied together... you might think we'd have been utterly sick of the sight of each other, but you'd be wrong.

As a Korean linguist, I figured that Korea was the best place for me to do my job, so rather than automatically rotate back stateside when my year was up, I extended for another year. Several of my colleagues and friends did the same. More field time, more hard work, more 100° monsoon weather, more bitterly cold winter — but it was worth it. At the end of the second year, I extended for a further six months, figuring I might like to return stateside after 2½ years.

In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein sent his army into Kuwait. I figured I was going to be stuck in Korea for longer than I had anticipated, but fortune smiled on me, and two weeks before a freeze was put on all transfers, I departed Korea.

Those 2½ years in Korea were among the best in my life. We worked harder (and played harder) there than I have anywhere before or since. Those are days, good and bad, that I'll never forget. The people I served with were the best I've ever known.

One phenomenon new to me at the time of my assignment to Korea was that of "unit coins." Individual units often had coins minted, typically with a logo or the unit crest and a motto; the coins were presented to soldiers who had earned the right to be called "one of us." I still keep mine, just in case I ever run into another veteran of A/102nd MI.


Diameter: 1¾".
Obverse: Tasmanian Devil ("Taz") holding lightning bolt and magic wand, wearing headphones, rucksack and boots, standing above Korean word for "Victory".
Reverse: mottos. (And now you know where I got the tagline for this site.)

Posted by Russ at 06:35 PM | Comments (2)
August 16, 2004

Yes, I'm better now — it must have been something I ate.

Imagination, however, is still lacking.

Posted by Russ at 03:39 PM
Lack of Imagination

Say what you will, call me a Negative Nelly, but for the life of me I can't think of any way to possibly construe throwing up at 4 in the morning as a good thing.

Posted by Russ at 08:58 AM
August 15, 2004
Real Class

In the previous note about the passing of Julia Child, I neglected to note that she spent her latter years in my hometown, Santa Barbara. [Montecito, actually, but no one knows where Montecito is.] I can't tell you exactly where her home was, but then, I haven't lived there in quite a number of years.

However, on my occasional visits to the old homestead, I frequently hear stories about some of the celebrities who live nearby. Montecito is the home of choice for quite a few of the Hollywood crowd: Oprah's estate is about half a mile from my Mom's house; my nieces and nephew went to school with Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski's kid; Kathy Ireland and her family go to my Mom's church; Kenny Loggins used to live three houses down the street, and so on.

Julia Child was one of the folks about whom I heard tales. In the comments to my previous post, Mom writes:

Did I ever tell you about the women at Von's grocery who would follow Julia around just to see what was in her shopping cart? Yep - the meat department and produce were most popular. She was a nice lady and loved going out to other homes for dinner where she would eat whatever was fixed and not complain about it.

If anyone on the planet had the right to criticize other peoples' cooking, it was Mrs. Child... yet she was always gracious.

I also failed to mention the thing I found most intriguing about her, that she had been in the OSS during the Second World War. Many people told stories about her supposed exploits behind enemy lines and whatnot, but she always dismissed those tales and said she had merely been a file clerk. She was that, and a little bit more, but she never inflated her own exploits.

She was the product of a different age, of course. She served her country, and afterwards did much to improve the lives of many people, even if it was something as simple as better-tasting food.

She had real class, and she'll be missed. I wish more people were as classy.

In a way, I got something from her, too. Every time I visit Santa Barbara, I make a point of going with my brother to one particular dingy-looking dumpy little Mexican restaurant in the low-rent part of town, "La Super Rica." Ordinarily, I tend to avoid places which might be called "dives" (or more politely, "shacks.")

But Julia Child once said it was her favorite Mexican restaurant. Now it's mine, too.

Posted by Russ at 01:04 PM
August 14, 2004
Quote of the Day

John Derbyshire:

Higgledy piggledy
James E. McGreevey
Resigning his office
Gave us a speech.

Spoke in the plural
Of "truths" and "realities."
Someone should tell him
There's just one of each.

in The Corner

Posted by Russ at 09:31 PM
August 13, 2004
Local Pipebomb Update

The only thing being said about our local idiot is that his pipe bombs were not powerful.

It sounds more and more like he was just a dumb kid with an explosives fixation... but I sure hope the FBI and/or police are going through his computer harddrive with a fine-tooth comb.

Posted by Russ at 09:33 PM
Another Blogger Returns

Rachel is blogging again...

Russell is blogging again...

And now John, who used to blog at No Replacement For Displacement is blogging again.

John was one of the very first folks to blogroll me when I started last year; when he dropped off the radar over a year ago, it was only after several months and with great reluctance that I eventually moved the link out of the blogroll and into my "dead blogs" file.

And now, after a year, he's back: Minion of the Great Satan

["Great Satan"... you know, like what the Islamonazis always call America...? Oh, come on people, read a newspaper sometime....]

The site has a great look, and boy oh boy, he's on fire. A few posts worth noting:

— John's take on the Kerry hamster CPR story had me snorting Diet Coke out my nose.

— He's got an interesting method to measure which candidates stink.

— He also knows why his father didn't win some medals.

Welcome back to the blogroll, John.

Posted by Russ at 08:38 PM | Comments (1)

As a prelude to hurricane Charley's arrival, we had a tornado warning about an hour ago. The severe thunderstorm warning we're under right now seems like a relief by comparison.

The Emergency Broadcast System said a twister had touched down about 8 miles from here. The rain was pounding as heavily as I've ever seen it — I could barely see the woods at the end of the street here — but it wasn't too windy.

This weekend is going to suck. It won't be anywhere near as bad here as the folks in Florida are having it, but that's just a question of degree. The "suck/no-suck" toggle is definitely flipped to "suck."

Posted by Russ at 07:55 PM
Julia Child, RIP

I just saw the news that Julia Child has passed away.

In remembrance, I plan to prepare and consume a good dinner tonight.

[Brian has more commentary at Memento Moron, as does Jay at One Fine Jay.]

Posted by Russ at 11:17 AM | Comments (8)
Friday the Thirteenth

Oh, lucky day....

This morning, while munching on what qualifies in this house as "breakfast," off popped the crown from my lower left molar.

Fortunately, I didn't swallow the darn thing. So I called my dentist for an appointment to get it cemented back in. An answering machine picked up the phone.

They're closed on Friday? Since when do dentists only work four days a week?

OK, OK, it's not exactly an emergency — I'm not in any pain whatsoever — but still... it's going to be a long weekend.

Maybe I need a new dentist.

Posted by Russ at 10:48 AM | Comments (5)
August 12, 2004
McGreevey Out

Talk about a headline chock full of innuendo....

NJ governor McGreevey a) announces he's gay, and b) simultaneously announces his impending resignation under a cloud of scandal.

McGreevey, apparently, is going to be slammed for sexually harrassing a male state employee.

Of course, he won't actually resign until a date that ensures that his Democrat successor will hold the seat until the term is finished, rather than immediately, which would force a special election. God forbid the Republicans might have a shot at winning the office.

The funny thing about all this is that resigning [rather than using the power of his office to defend himself and/or destroy his enemies] actually makes him one of the more honorable of recent scandal-ridden Democrat politicians.

Jeff Jarvis has a collection of links.

Posted by Russ at 04:46 PM
Quote of the Day

Ann Coulter, on the forthcoming book Unfit For Command:

If memory serves, the last book Democrats tried this hard to suppress was the Bible.
Posted by Russ at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)
August 11, 2004

Frequent commenter Brian B. has gone and done it — he's taken the leap:

      Memento Moron: Remember Thou Art Stupid

Welcome into the pool, Brian — the water's fine.

(And be sure to read the rationale for the naming of his blog.)

Posted by Russ at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)
Local Terrorism, Part 2

Following up on the teen pipebomb maker mentioned yesterday.

Parents: Teen Accused Of Having Pipe Bombs Is Model Student

Of course he is.

"He is a good kid. He is inventive. He is assertive. He is curious. He's a honor roll student," he said. "He had no intention of ever setting one of those things off. I think he was just curious to see if he could do it."

Great. So tell us Dad, why was he driving around with these objects of his curiosity in the back of the car?

Later in the article:

"He was really nice, really outgoing. Just kind of stood out. He had a bunch of friends, but he kept to himself sometimes," student Holly Goodwin said.

The good Lord knows, if I ever did something foolish enough to end up on the news, my own neighbors would probably describe me as "a quiet guy — keeps mostly to himself, but he seems pretty nice."

Heck, why not just label me a psychopath now and be done with it?

Students said they were happy the authorities acted when they did.

"After the Columbine thing, everyone is going to be concerned about school violence. It is really surprising, coming from a small town like Apex," student Curtis Driver said.

"It's scary to think about that," student Melissa Williams said. "He could have brought them to school. Anything could have happened."

Exactly. Anything could have happened. We don't yet know what the kid had in mind; given that he's a minor, we might not ever know, except through the filter of his legal surrogates. [IANAL; in juvenile cases, are prosecutors allowed to talk to the public?]

He's apparently not a stupid kid... but at the very minimum, he is a fool. OK, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the kid. I suspect he probably just has a teenage-boy fixation on blowing stuff up — we all have incidents of extreme foolishness in our past, after all — but my suspicions aren't exactly the final word on this.

I just wonder: if the kid hadn't been caught when he was, would we instead be seeing news reports like this one?

Posted by Russ at 03:46 PM
Haiku of the Day
"Not on the same boat,"
the pundits cry. Their mission:
redefine "served with."

Watching the left-side-of-the-spectrum talking heads trying to avoid going into convulsions as they attempt to spin (i.e., lie about) the Swift Boat Vets story is almost entertaining.

The Swift Boat Veterans are facing (and will continue to face) vituperation, ad hominem attacks, misstatements about their motives, outright lies from Kerry defenders, and soon no doubt will have their reputations dug into and smeared for daring to criticize Kerry. ("Oh! The effrontery!")

(Former FBI agent Gary Aldrich can — and does — offer some advice, as one who has been there.)

This is all happening, of course, because the Kerry camp cannot refute The Ad on the basis of the facts.

Update: More on the "served with" issue here, here and here.

Posted by Russ at 02:46 PM
August 10, 2004
Local Terrorism

The big news around here:

Pipe Bomb Find Leads To Dozens Of Charges Against Fuquay-Varina Teen

Egads. Fuquay-Varina is only two towns away from here.

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. -- The search for a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run incident turned up something far more disturbing Monday. Police say a teenager involved in the accident had more than a dozen pipe bombs.

Now, a major investigation is under way that spans from Apex to Cary to Fuquay-Varina and involves the FBI and the Raleigh Bomb Squad.

Cary police are handling the investigation because it all started with a hit-and-run at 12:34 p.m. at Waverly Place in Cary.

Cary, Apex, and Fuquay-Varina are all in the western/southwestern suburbs of Raleigh. As I think I've noted in the past, I live in Apex.

In a parking lot next to the Bright Horizons Family Solutions day-care center, the hit-and-run suspect quickly became a serious threat.

The driver, 17-year-old Jarrett Brown, was pulled over by an Apex police officer who noticed something unusual in the back seat of the car.

"He spotted what appeared to be some type of explosive device," said Capt. Dave Wulff of the Cary Police Department.

Note that it was an alert police officer that spotted this. Kudos to that officer, but let's face it: it was a matter of luck. If the kid hadn't been stupid, he might not have been caught.

Inside the vehicle, the officer found six pipe bombs that were all less than 6 inches long.

That is when officers ordered Jennie Sykes to evacuate her day-care center.

"A lot of children were in the building, about 75 to 80 children, so it was a big responsibility to get them across the street," said Jennie Sykes of Bright Horizons Family Solutions.

The Raleigh Bomb Squad wrapped the explosives in blankets, put them in their bomb disposal unit and hauled them away.

The investigation led officers to the teen's home on Poplar Ridge Road in Fuquay-Varina. Inside, they found 12 more pipe bombs.

"We do have chemicals that we're concerned about," said Chief Jerry Phillips of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department.

As a precaution, police evacuated eight residences in the cul-de-sac.

Brown, a rising senior at Apex High School, is charged with 24 counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction and a hit-and-run charge.

The Fuquay-Varina police chief says Brown's parents did not seem to know about the chemicals in their son's room.

"I spoke to them briefly and they came across as good people." Phillips said. "I don't know, you don't know what your children do sometimes. You hope they don't get into trouble, but sometimes they do."

Brown is scheduled to make his first appearance Tuesday.

I don't know what this guy had going on in his head. Maybe he was going to do some creative fishing at Jordan Lake just a few miles west of here. Maybe he simply shared the fascination many teenage boys have with blowing things up.

Or maybe he had a score to settle. Was he bullied in school? Was he affiliated with eco-terrorists? It's too soon to know anything yet.

In a post-Columbine, post-9/11 world, no one with half a brain in their head is going to fiddle around with illegal home-made explosives just for fun. This guy is either exceptionally stupid (unlikely, since it takes a certain amount of brainpower to build pipebombs without killing yourself) or had a motive to use the aforementioned pipebombs.

Odds are, this kid is going down. Hard.

Posted by Russ at 03:37 PM
August 09, 2004

On the subject of John Kerry's military records and the incomplete release thereof, I was going to speculate on the possibility that his Officer Evaluation Reports (OERs) might be less than stellar — hence the reluctance to release the full record.

The OER, known during the Vietnam era as the Fitness Report (FITREP), is the report card given to officers. (NCOs, naturally, receive NCOERs.) A good report isn't necessarily good enough, but a bad OER is a career killer... and the badness doesn't have to be obvious to civilian eyes. There is a culture of understatement, and language that might at first glance appear to be glowing approval may actually be a slap in the face.

For example, this may sound great to a civilian:

This officer is a fine example to his subordinates and can perform their duties as well as or better than they can.

But to other officers, what it really says is:

This chump is supposed to be better than his subordinates. Obviously, he does not compare well to his peers, and should not be promoted.

OK, I made that example up myself, but it illustrates the point.

Now, I expected that Kerry's FITREPs might have been in the material withheld from public release. So I Googled it, and... I was wrong.

Some or all of the FITREPs were in the released material, but it still doesn't look too good for Kerry. McQ at QandO has already addressed the matter.

Posted by Russ at 08:09 PM | Comments (1)
August 06, 2004
The More Things Change...

I'm re-reading one of my favorite books, Men of War, the second volume of the There Will Be War series edited (and in large part written) by Jerry Pournelle. Dr. Pournelle is more than a "mere" science fiction author — he's also a respected academic with a large body of work to his credit, including a key role in the formulation of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Now out of print, but still available through used-book outlets, the book consists of non-fiction essays and short fiction stories, and was published at a time when the Soviet danger was at or near its maximum. Twenty years later, it is fascinating to read what some very smart people had to say about the nature of threats against us. Take, for example, the following passages, written by Dr. Stefan Possony in 1968 about "Technological War":

The United States is at war.... Except for financial sacrifices, many citizens of the West and subjects of Communism may be unaware of the conflict until the decisive moment, if it ever comes, is upon them. For all that, the Technological War is most real, and we must understand its nature, for it is decisive. Our survival depends on our not losing this battle.

The nature of both technology and the enemy dictate this state of warfare. The U.S.S.R. is a power-oriented dictatorship, whose official doctrine is Communism: that is, a chiliastic movement which seeks to liberate — we would say enslave — the entire earth.

Written in '68, but sounds familiar, no? For "communism" substitute "Islamofascism," and for "U.S.S.R." substitute "Muslim part of the world" or "caliphate" or the synonym of your choice.

We can be thankful, at least, that major new technologies are not being developed by our current enemies, though they are perfectly happy to use our technology when they can get it. What we do have to worry about, however, is new methodologies used to employ old technology.

They can't build airliners — they can only crash them into targets, but that's bad enough.

Further along, we read:

Moreover, aggressive actions may occur because of internal pressures, especially in a period when faith in Communism as an ideological system is declining, and it is possible, though unlikely, that aggressive initiatives will be taken by non-Communist states. Despite all those implications the U.S.S.R. is the single most important and strongest opponent of the United States. Consequently, American strategists must primarily be concerned with Soviet strategy and the threat posed by the U.S.S.R.

In my humble estimation, I think this paragraph would apply equally to Islamofascism and to the Peoples' Republic of China. China is a threat — and they are investing heavily in technology. Thus far they've mainly stolen it (for example, see the recently settled Cisco Systems lawsuit against Huawei) but in short order, they will be developing new technologies to compete with and ultimately defeat the West.

[I've often said that I think we'll be in a shooting war with China in the not too distant future — I started, ten or fifteen years ago, by suggesting 2025 as a "due date," but I'm now less optimistic about the number of years we have remaining. Thanks a lot, Clinton & Schwartz. Bastards.]

It must be emphasized that to the committed Communist, there are no ideological reasons for not exploiting advantages over the capitalists. The only possible objections are operational. No communist can admit that a capitalist government is legitimate; thus there can be no "mercy" to a vulnerable capitalist regime.

Again, this applies rather accurately to the current state of Islamic radicalism. Our governments, institutions and religions are, to their way of thinking, illegitimate. The only options they leave for us to choose from are death, dhimmitude, or victory.

The entire essay (more precisely, a chapter from the book The Strategy of Technology) is well worth reading, but may be difficult to acquire. Fortunately, an updated edition of the complete book is available online at Dr. Pournelle's site. This is not light reading, folks. But valuable, very valuable.

Posted by Russ at 08:57 PM
Figure of Speech

A Tennessee law professor blogger who shall remain nameless posts a link to some sort of article on California business. The expression "nibbled to death by ducks" makes an appearance.

As that unnamed blogger might say, "heh."

My all-time favorite TV series (which, in the Grand Scheme Of Things, ranks in importance somewhere between a favorite grandparent and a favorite flavor of icecream) is Babylon 5. (The full set of DVDs is in my wish list... but I may pop for it myself one of these days.)

Yes, I'm a geek.

Yes, there's a connection. Bear with me.

Babylon 5 was smartly-written: gritty, suspenseful, thrilling and realistic (well... as realistic as science fiction can reasonably be), with grand themes surrounding the day-to-day action. Characters had failings, flaws and deep dark secrets — no prissy Jean-Luc Picards anywhere to be seen. The problems of everyday life intruded into the characters' lives. The tip-off for me was that the space station had bathrooms, and characters actually used them.

[I'm convinced the missions of Star Trek's vessels were mainly concerned searching for planets with decent lavatory facilities, since no commodes are apparent on Star Fleet's ships.]

As the saying goes, for science fiction to be good science fiction, it must first be good fiction. By any standard, B5 scored on that count. It was such a good show that, given Hollywood's penchant for killing quality projects, I still think it's a miracle it made it to the airwaves at all, much less made it through its complete 5-year storyline.

If you never followed it, I can only say: it's not too late.

Not only was B5 one great big terrific story, but almost all episodes (there were a couple of stinkers) were good stories in and of themselves. Throughout the series were moments that would have any normal person shivering with anticipation, cheering, saddened, or laughing out loud.

Hence this post. We began with ducks, and end with one of my favorite "gems" of dialog from the program.

Londo: "... I think I will stick my head in the station's fusion reactor. It would be quicker. And I suspect, after a while I might even come to enjoy it. But this — this, this, this is like being nibbled to death by... what are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet .. go 'quack'...?"

Vir: "Cats."

Londo: "Cats. I'm being nibbled to death by cats."

Cracks me up every time.

[I always thought the expression was "nibbled to death by cats" rather than "by ducks." A quick Google of both phrases yields 2,910 hits for "cats" and a mere 695 for "ducks," but that's beside the point....]

[Point? What point?]

Posted by Russ at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)
Quote of the Day

As I am somewhat pedantic about language, I could not overlook this:

The words games of the left — from the mantra of "diversity" to the pieties of "compassion" — are not just games. They are ways of imposing power by evading issues of substance through the use of seductive rhetoric.

Thomas Sowell, on the vocabulary of the Left.

Posted by Russ at 09:28 AM
August 04, 2004
Too Weird

Are Jehovah's Witnesses getting too lazy to walk door-to-door?

I just got a telemarketing call from them.

OK, granted, it's supposed to be hot and humid here today, but not oppresively so. Just enough that most folks wouldn't really want to walk around outdoors too much, I imagine (I certainly wouldn't want to).

But come on guys, telemarketing?

You'd think they would try harder. Well, at least it saved me the trouble of having to politely but firmly shut the door in their faces.

Posted by Russ at 12:10 PM | Comments (5)
You Know...

You know there's something strange going on in your head when you have a dream — the same dream, on successive nights — about getting an Instalanche.

If I ever write anything worth linkage from Instapundit, I'll be sure let you know. In the meantime, I'll just continue to putter along.

Posted by Russ at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
August 03, 2004
MMM Returns

One of the first people I had on my blogroll was Mean Mr. Mustard. Then, about a year ago, he dropped off the radar — quit blogging to focus on school.

It looks like school is out.

Welcome back, Russell.

Posted by Russ at 10:41 PM | Comments (1)
August 02, 2004
Haiku of the Day
Like a basketball
lacking any inflation
no bounce for Kerry

OK, OK, maybe he got a couple of points from the convention; the results are not yet clear. But so far, it's looking like "lead balloonsville" for the DNC.

Posted by Russ at 09:02 AM
August 01, 2004

Sometimes, wanting to write just isn't good enough.

Sometimes, you just want to read what other people are saying. Given the news, and given the weather hereabouts (heavy rain, which always puts me in a mood for a nap) today is one of those days.

So I've been reading rather than writing today. Here are some good reads today:

Michele has a reminder.

The other Michelle (the Malkin one) is hot on the trail of Homeland Insecurity.

Doc Russia sees through Kerry's "warrior" act.

Serenity appears to have learned a few things from her move to Dallas.

Spoons notes two "September 10" (a.k.a. "head-in-the-sand") thinkers of the day.

Steve (my new favorite author) notes that in defending ourselves, we can choose between racial profiling, or letting ourselves get killed in the name of Political Correctness.

The Homeland Security business is certainly big today. Jeff at protein wisdom is on the case, too.

And of course, the news of the day: a narrowly-tailored Orange Alert.

Update: Duane notes in the comments here and on his site that there's still a missing tanker truck.

Update 2: Mamamontezz has kind words to the troops wondering about Michael Moore's latest pack of lies.

Posted by Russ at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)